In today’s materialistic world, it is easy to forget that it is only our relationships that really matter in life. But that is absolutely true.
For example, can you imagine standing at the gates of Heaven trying to argue your way in just because you once owned a BMW? And yet most of us find our partners almost by accident. You would not choose a car that way, would you? So why not have a strategy for finding your ideal partner? And keeping them.
Because the rules for having a happy marriage are actually very simple. People do break them of course, and still lead good lives. But your chances of success are much greater if you follow the rules.
The first one is not getting married too soon. Meet lots of people and learn how to be a good partner. But do not think about marriage until you have become a truly independent adult. And have developed a fully mature relationship with your parents. Because for your marriage to succeed, you must place each other above everyone else. Including your parents.
The next requirement is to know yourself. Most people never do. They just accept whatever happens to them and never ask the reason why. Instead, try to understand why you behave the way you do. Especially at times when you are stressed. Think about your principles, beliefs, preferences and interests. What you believe about God. What makes you angry or sad. Your expectations in marriage and what motivates you.
Knowing yourself means understanding your goals and purpose in life. So you can look for someone whose values are similar to yours. Because men and women whose background, attitudes, principles and beliefs are a good match are much more likely to be successful together.
And what should you do once you have found the love of your life? Well, above all be open and honest with one another. And totally committed to your relationship. There is nothing more poisonous than the attitude “I’m only here until someone better turns up....”
And it may sound very politically incorrect, but the scriptures are right. A wife should give herself to her husband. Completely.
He should be the most important part of her life. Even more than her children. And a man should love his wife even more than he loves himself.
Putting her way above his work and social life. Both sharing a deep feeling that come what may they will always be together.
Single people can be utterly self-focused, but successful couples see themselves in terms of their relationship, with shared ambitions and dreams.
So that each of their self-images totally embraces the other. They also protect their intimate lives from the demands of work and their children. Because good sex – lots of it – is the best glue there is for holding a marriage together.
So never neglect your partner’s physical needs. Through all of life’s disappointments and frustrations.
This article was first published in Daily Nation